Experience Life Off the Grid at Animal Farm

Nestled in the Montpelier Hills near Montego Bay, Jamaica lies the alluring Animal Farm and Nature Reserve. This 40-acre sanctuary sits in a lush rainforest valley which is supplied by the Great River, one of Jamaica’s fastest flowing rivers. Dr. Geoffrey Williams, the owner of Animal Farm, acquired the thickly wooded land in the 1990s and transformed it into a beautiful off-the-grid farm. Animal Farm is solar-powered, harvests water from the Great River and uses bio-gas for refrigeration and cooking. Animal Farm opened to guests in 2000 and quickly became a naturalist and ecotourist’s paradise, teeming with ferns, towering trees, flowering plants and beautiful exotic birds. Today, one can escape the hustle and bustle of city life with a stay in one of the farm’s eco-cottages, or enjoy an edutaining farm tour, hiking, birdwatching, bamboo rafting excursion or even a self-guided tour through the farm at one’s own pace. In this article, I recap my weekend getaway and share why Animal Farm deserves a spot on your Jamaican bucket list.


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What’s Inside?

  1. Where Is Animal Farm?
  2. Great River Nature Lodges
  3. Farm Tour
  4. River Hike & Swim
  5. Wrap Up + Booking Details

Where Is Animal Farm Located?

Driving to Animal Farm in Copse, Hanover

Animal Farm is located in Copse, Hanover which is about 30 minutes or 20 kilometers outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The farm was easy to find using GPS, and they have signs every few kilometers to provide reassurance that you are on track. The road surface was fairly good so no SUV is required. Put down your windows and take in the crisp country breeze and views on the way up, with occasional glimpses of the Great River. You’ll pass through Lethe, another community located on the Great River where one can also experience bamboo rafting.


As you get closer to Animal Farm, the signs become more abundant. It’s evident that Dr. Williams takes pride in not only living green, but also educating his guests about Jamaica’s natural history and the benefits of sustainable living. I eagerly perused every sign, refreshing my general knowledge about Jamaica’s endemic species as well as committing new facts to memory. I appreciate that many of the tree species are labelled with its common name too. Your education at Animal Farm will begin before you drive through its entrance gates and I am immensely grateful for that. I love when learning doesn’t feel like work!


Great River Nature Lodges at Animal Farm

Animal Farm has four wooden cottages from which to choose. There is Rocky, my attractive magenta-coloured split-level studio which sleeps two guests comfortably. Rocky was built high off the ground to give the illusion of being nestled in the rainforest’s canopy. The comfortable cabin is furnished with a double bed, folding chair, stool and desk. There’s a balcony and indoor bathroom with hot water, modern fixtures and plumbing. The kitchen is located underneath the main cabin. My partner and I enjoyed restful sleep at Rocky which is completely still at nights, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. The only daytime noise is the pleasant chirp of the birds which inhabit the surrounding treetops, and occasional distant crows from the chickens, guinea fowls and other birds which inhabit this working farm. Rocky starts at US$40 per night for two.

Inside Rocky, my home at Animal Farm

Other accommodation options include:

  • Barbara, a similar cottage painted in bright Caribbean blue
  • A budget-friendly Cottage by the River which sleeps 3 guests at US$20 per bed, and
  • The deluxe Pratville Place Eco-Duplex which may be rented as two separate units, or opened into one larger unit for a group or family.

Note: The rooms do not have air conditioning but you won’t miss it. In fact, the mornings get very cold and foggy. Carry basic toiletries such as soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and insect repellant. Toilet paper and fresh towels are provided, however.

Animal Farm Tour

Feeding Billy the sheep
She was definitely posing!

As a city girl, I can’t recall ever being on an animal farm tour so I really looked forward to this. This is an excellent activity to do near Montego Bay with children. Animal Farm is home to several species of animals such as: rabbits, guinea pigs, Molly the cow, Coco the goat, Billy the sheep as well as a Jamaican yellow boa snake and American crocodile, both of which are endemic to Jamaica. Molly is quite lovable and you can tell she thrives on the attention. Unfortunately, Molly lost both her parents quite young but thankfully was rescued and bottle-fed by Animal Farm staff until she was old enough to feed from a bucket. The kindness she has been shown by humans makes her very tame, but also a little jealous.

The pigs hold a special job on Animal Farm. Their waste is used to generate bio-gas for cooking and refrigeration. We got to see their pens which have been dubbed the prettiest and cleanest pig sty in Jamaica, as well as the bio-gas digester, collecting tank and pipelines which keep this operation afloat.

However, the real stars of the show at Animal Farm are the birds! Animal Farm’s main niche is aviculture, and I saw more exotic species here than I did at the local zoo in Kingston! The birds at Animal Farm include emus, peafowl, guineafowl, chickens, turkeys and several species of quail, ducks and pheasants. I love that many of the birds are given free reign of the property, and the ones housed in cages had large airy homes. The Lady Amherst Pheasant and the Golden Pheasant are the two most beautiful birds I have ever seen. They looked almost too colourful to be real, but then I remembered that God makes the best artwork. Most of the birds are kept as pets, but Animal Farm also supplies the local market with organic quail eggs and meat.


All animals are equal at Animal Farm, but like the novel, some animals are more equal than others. Perhaps the Rasta Fowl, Animal Farm’s signature bird, would reign supreme. These chickens, like the White Crested Black Polish Chicken, sport tufts of feathers on their heads that look like dreadlocks or Afros.


River Hike & Swim

Paradise found

Kim, our lovely tour guide at the farm, took us to the river then left us to enjoy it by ourselves. Animal Farm’s section of the Great River was empty and spotless! The river was clear and shallow; it never got deeper than my waist. I love when Jamaica’s rivers feel like my personal swimming pool. We were the only persons there for the two hours spent. Our only company were the tall dependable trees which formed a canopy overhead and filtered out the sunlight to cast a cool viridescent glow over everything.

The next day, we woke early to take a hike through the rest of the farm and surrounding community. Our guide Roy had to clear some overgrowth for us in the process, and it’s always amusing how a machete in Jamaica serves multiple functions! Every countryman in Jamaica owns a machete. This corner of Jamaica gets covered by fog at nights due to the elevation, and it doesn’t clear until about 8am. Therefore, we caught a bit of it on the start of our hike which led us to the river, through banana farms and more.


Wrap Up + Booking Details

All good things must come to an end, eh? Dr. Williams was an excellent host. It was an honour to meet him and get invited to his home for breakfast on the last day of my stay. We got to watch the exciting World Cup Final in Dr. Williams’ living room and see Argentina take home the Cup for the first time since 1986.

I hope you’ve added Animal Farm to your Jamaican bucket list. Remember to share, pin and bookmark this article for later. Which part of Animal Farm was your favourite? Mine was the river, followed by the birds and signage. Also, Dr. Williams’ book collection was certainly admirable and got me nostalgic about my days of high school literature… which reminds me, I should dust off my high school copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm! You can bet that Dr. Williams had a copy of the book.

Follow Animal Farm on Instagram and learn more about their story + tours on the website. Also, check out the cottages here.

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‘Til next time.

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Published by

Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle

Adventures from Elle is a travel blog for locals & visitors who want to experience the best of Jamaica, one adventure at a time. The blog is curated by Rochelle Knight, a junior resident (M.D.) in internal medicine and published author. She began the blog in 2016 as a medical student & wants to see the world, starting with her home country. Purchase her book 'SIGHTSEE JAMAICA' on Amazon and join her in Jamaica!

25 thoughts on “Experience Life Off the Grid at Animal Farm

  1. Really enjoyed this well-written article. I can picture myself there! Would love to see those rasta fowls live! All the very best for the season and looking forward to ticking off some of the places here on your blog and in your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sigh, my only complaint about your blog is that every single place that you post, I want to visit. I think I will surely enjoy a two or three day stay here thou….this is my kind of vibe. I stayed in somewhere similar (a cabin in the woods in Trinidad) but the hot water was not working. Girl, I can’t live without my hot water lol. Anyways, I look forward to one day visiting this Animal Farm. At this rate, I will have to move to Jamaica and live there for a while to visit all these places you blogging about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! Moving back to Jamaica doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all 🤣 I acknowledge your complaint, and will do nothing to fix it. I didn’t have consistent hot water until a year ago, and now I’m spoilt. I can’t go back either. Life is hard enough as it is. I think we deserve some small comforts where we can. Hot water is one of my non-negotiables so I’m happy Animal Farm had working hot water. 🙂 If you ever visit, I’ll stow away in your suitcase


    2. Lololol no probs. Yes girl, it is a non-negotiable for me. It also was high up in the mountains in Trinidad where temperatures could reach 14 deg C. …. nah. I can’t do cold water in that! But yea, continue with the posts ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That looks like my kind of place! I love the bright colors of the cottages, and how clear the river is! Also, I never found a lack of air conditioning to be a problem in the tropics. For me, just sitting outside was enough to keep cool on hot days.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great concept! Sustainability has been a huge trend in the last decade, but I’ve not heard of a sustainable farm AND accommodation before! Looks like your time in Animal Farm was a good one, and I’m glad to see that the animals are treated humanely here. Another lovely trip to check out!

    Liked by 1 person

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